We are only in our third week of school, yet I have already learned quite a few things being the PTA President. Here are a few.
1. You cannot please everyone. If you try, everyone will end up being frustrated and no one wins.
2. Organization is the key! All of those “I will file these later” papers really do need to be filed as soon as you get them. Who knew?
3. To delegate is to succeed. Jumping out of the “I can do it since no one else will” mindset not only keeps you (ME!) from an early burnout, but lets other people actually volunteer.
4. You have to learn diplomacy. Even if you think Parent A is a total tool, you are not — I repeat NOT — allowed to express that. To anyone. That should be the first line in every PTA handbook. (Not that I have actually done that. Yet.)
5. Read and live by the book If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, because it is a great reference when it comes to people wanting things from you and/or the PTA. If you give a group/vendor/organization a cookie, they will ask for milk. (Adjust this to the PTA and the people who want something because you are the PTA, and isn’t that your job?)
6. It is considered unacceptable behavior to tackle people waiting in line after school to pick up their children to try to gain more volunteers. It is frowned upon. They say it is a bit aggressive. I say do what works.
7. Remember what it was like when you were trying to get your foot in the door to volunteer and make sure everyone is welcome. Take everyone you can and find a place for them. (I mean, really, if someone wants to make copies for 2 hours, why would you not let them do so? It is them or you. Take them up on it.)
8. Watch what you say and where you say it. People just love to bring stuff back to you and call you on it. (Face it, I am too old to be called to the Principal’s office for saying a “bad word” in front of a parent. Not that I have. Not exactly. But blogs are forever. And I have been called out for a column or two.)
9. Ask questions. Sure, people see you as the leader and therefore you must know everything. Those silly people have obviously not met me if they think that. I ask questions on how to do things every day. To me that is what makes the position work. If I knew everything, I would not be a PTA President. I would be a Nobel Prize Winner and probably have very little time to volunteer.
10. Finally, you are now “owned” by the PTA. You will receive more emails and phone calls than you ever have before. And? People actually want a response. Imagine that. Suggestion: get a separate email address just for the PTA and check it about eleventy-hundred times a day. It will save you grief in the long run. The thinking “If I don’t read it, it doesn’t exist!” no longer works. (Bummer, I know.)
Though these are just a few things I have learned so far this year, the most important thing I have learned is this: You will have the time of your life working so closely with both the school and the parents. Seriously. Don’t be scared to step up and volunteer. You never know what you will learn and who will be the one to teach you.
I was terrified to take on this position. Now? I haven’t looked back once and am thrilled they trusted me to do it. In fact — and this is our little secret — I actually love it. (Now, don’t tell. I have a reputation to keep, you know.)